Derby firsts

Derby firsts and inspirational women

Investec Derby Festival


The Derby has been shaped by incredible achievements, and by the pioneering women who forged the way.

  • The Investec Derby Festival is the world's oldest continually run sporting event. Its 239-year history has seen incredible moments, on and off the track, driven by partnerships, preparation and elite performance.
  • The Derby at Epsom has played host to many inspirational women, who defied convention to accomplish great feats, adding to the unique story that makes this the most prestigious event in the racing calendar.

1780: the first Derby

The 12th Earl of Derby famously won a coin toss to name the inaugural race after himself, rather than his guest and friendly rival, Sir Charles Bunbury. A colt called Diomed ran to victory on Thursday 4 May, 1780, winning £1,065 15s for Bunbury, his owner. It would be seven years before the Earl of Derby tasted victory in his own race.

1801: the first filly to win

In 1801, Eleanor became the first filly to win the Derby, ridden by John Saunders. The pair had already raced clear to triumph in the Oaks the previous day. Since then, five more fillies have won the world’s greatest flat race, most recently Fifinella in 1916.

1918: the first women to vote

In 1913, suffragette Emily Davison ran onto the track at Epsom during the Derby and was struck by the King’s horse, Anmer, dying of her injuries four days later. It is believed she was trying to attach a scarf in support of the Suffragette Movement to the horse. Five years later the Representation of the People Act 1918 finally gave some women (property owners over 30) the right to vote. 

1953: Queen Elizabeth II’s first Derby

Four days after her coronation in 1953, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II attended the Derby at Epsom. She first attended as a princess in 1946. In the subsequent six decades she has missed the race only twice. Her Majesty’s long-term relationship with the Derby underscores its status as the most prestigious event in the racing calendar; truly, an event like no other.

1996: the first female jockeys

Pioneering jockey Alex Greaves became the first woman to ride in the Epsom Derby, when she rode the 500-1 outsider Portuguese Lil in 1996. Sixteen years later, Hayley Turner repeated the feat on Cavaliero. In a distinctive career, Turner won the Beverly D. Stakes in the US in 2012, becoming the first UK-based female jockey to ride to victory in an international Grade 1 flat race.

2007: Frankie's first win

Frankie Dettori rode 13 times in the Derby before finally winning the world’s greatest flat race at his 14th attempt, on Authorized, trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam. Dettori would achieve another extraordinary performance 8 years later, riding Golden Horn to victory by three and a half lengths.

2009: the first Investec Derby

Investec’s sponsorship of the Epsom Derby began in 2009. As Britain’s richest horse and the pinnacle of the flat racing season, the Derby reflects our values of outstanding talent and distinctive performance. Victory at the Derby is underpinned by partnerships and preparation; at Investec, we live these values for our clients. 

2010: first in the record books

Lammtarra held the course record at Epsom Downs for 15 years before Workforce, ridden for the third time by Ryan Moore, stormed to victory by seven lengths in the 2010 Investec Derby. His time of 2 minutes and 31.33 seconds is an extraordinary performance, unbeaten to this day, driven by energy, ambition and outstanding talent.

Joseph O'Brien wins the Derby

2012: the first father and son victory

In 2012, trainer Aidan O’Brien and jockey Joseph O’Brien became the first father-son jockey and trainer to clinch the win in the Investec Derby. At just 19 years old, Joseph rode to victory on Camelot; their winning partnership also delivered victory in two other Group 1 races that year.
Joseph O'Brien wins the Derby

More from the Investec Derby

The importance of preparation

Winners are forged from meticulous preparation. Innovative technologies, training methods and nutrition can give winners the edge to leave the pack behind.

Partnerships at the heart of success

Whether it's between a jockey and a horse, a trainer and an owner or an adviser and client, partnership and collaboration help winners to run a different race.

The Investec Derby Festival 2018

Friday 1 June

Ladies’ day

Saturday 2 June

Derby day

Epsom Downs

Home of the Derby for 239 years

Ladies' Day sees exhilarating racing, open only to fillies, alongside glamour, high fashion and sumptuous hospitality.

This unique event in the sporting calendar culminates in Britain's richest horse race, the Investec Derby.

Epsom Downs racecourse is easy to access by road or rail. Find out how to arrive at the world's greatest flat race.